Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister has vowed to block a planned gay festival in the country’s capital – and ban its organisers from the country.
The Malaysian press had gone into overdrive over the plans for a White Party Kuala Lumpur, a spin-off of the region’s largest annual gay music festival which takes place in Bangkok, Thailand.
The event was reportedly set to go ahead in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur at a gay club night in the city which asked not to be named due to persecution by Islamic groups.
However, following pressure, the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi vowed to block the event.
He said: “We are monitoring the names of the relevant individuals and will place them on the ‘not to let’ category [banning them from Malaysia].
“As the Home Minister, I have instructed the police and Immigration Department to ensure that the White Party is not held in our country, anywhere at all – indoors or outdoors.
“This is my commitment that I wish to state to all Malaysians.”
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He assured the newspapers: “No visa will be granted, as the [not to let] order has been issued. Police and Immigration are monitoring the movements of all those involved.
“We will never approve such a gay gathering as this is not the behaviour of normal human beings.
“There are many other things we can do to bring in tourists. We don’t need this.”
Gay sex is illegal in Malaysia, and punishable by up to 20 years in prison, caning, or a fine.
Malaysian LGBT activists say incidents of homophobia and transphobia have increased in recent years in the majority Muslim Southeast Asian country.
Earlier this year a Pride march in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur was cancelled, reportedly following anger from pro-Islamist blogs that the event was scheduled during Ramadan
Earlier this year Malaysian authorities blocked the release of Disney’s live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast after it was revealed the film features a gay character.
The head of the Malaysian Censorship Board (LPF) falsely told the country’s press that he had banned the film because of a scene where a gay man “lifts up his shirt and shows a love bite on his tummy”.
Disney confirmed that this was entirely fabricated, and that no such scene was made or present in any version of the film.